Thursday, November 7, 2019

Forbes Columnist Rips Apart AOC Claims About the California Wildfires and Climate Change

Forbes contributor Michael Shellenberger has done an excellent job of taking apart the shallow claims of socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others that the California fires have been caused by climate change.

Here are key snippets:

Many blame climate change [for the California wildfires].“The reason these wildfires have worsened is because of climate change,” said Leonardo DiCaprio.“This is what climate change looks like,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

I asked Dr. Jon Keeley, a US Geological Survey scientist who has researched the topic for 40 years, if he thought the 2018 Paradise fire could be attributed to climate change.

“It’s almost certainly not climate change,” he said. “We’ve looked at the history of climate and fire throughout the whole state, and through much of the state, particularly the western half of the state, we don’t see any relationship between past climates and the amount of area burned in any given year.”

The only solution to fires in the shrubland is to prevent them and/or harden homes and buildings to them.

Before Europeans arrived, fires burned up woody biomass in forests every 10 to 20 years, preventing the accumulation of (wood) fuel, and burned in the shrublands every 50 to 120 years.

But for the last 100 years, the US Forest Service (USFS) and other agencies put out most fires, resulting in the accumulation of wood fuel. “It’s like the forests have become a really tall version of chaparral,” said [Hugh Safford, a forest ecologist with the US Forest Service].

The result can be fires that burn so hot they sometimes kill the forest, turning it into shrubland.

“I did a paper that found if you looked at Sierra Nevadas you’d want a half-million acres a year burned,” said US Forest Service research ecologist, Malcolm North. But, “over a 10-year period, the Forest Service was treating 28,000 acres and burning 7,000 acres, and so we’re at just seven to eight percent of where you would want to be.”

Keeley published a paper last year that found that all ignition sources of fires had declined except for powerlines.

“Since the year 2000 there’ve been a half-million acres burned due to powerline-ignited fires, which is five times more than we saw in the previous 20 years,” he said.

“Some people would say, ‘Well, that’s associated with climate change.’ But there’s no relationship between climate and these big fire events.”

What then is driving the increase in fires?

“If you recognize that 100% of these [shrubland] fires are started by people, and you add 6 million people [since 2000], that’s a good explanation for why we’re getting more and more of these fires,” said Keeley.

I asked Keeley what he thought of the Twitter spat between Gov. Newsom and President Trump.

“I don’t think the president is wrong about the need to better manage,” said Keeley. “I don’t know if you want to call it ‘mismanaged’ but they’ve been managed in a way that has allowed the fire problem to get worse.”

What’s true of California fires appears true for fires in the rest of the US.

In 2017, Keeley and a team of scientists modeled 37 different regions across the US and found “humans may not only influence fire regimes but their presence can actually override, or swamp out, the effects of climate.”

Of the 10 variables, the scientists explored, “none were as significantly significant… as the anthropogenic variables.”

I asked Keeley if the media’s focus on climate change frustrated him.

“Oh, yes, very much,” he said, laughing. “Climate captures attention. I can even see it in the scientific literature. Some of our most high-profile journals will publish papers that I think are marginal. But because they find climate to be an important driver of some change, they give preference to them. It captures attention.”
Read the full article here.



  1. I am constantly angered by the fact that all this "climate change" nonsense is drawing attention and MONEY away from REAL ecological problems like over fishing (one of many fixable problems). Ask me about St. Lucia or the Bahamas.

    1. There's generally very little in the way of political power and social engineering dealing with real pollution and other real ecological problems. These problems are either in places that are of no concern politically or are already politically and economically operating under a desired model. It would take pennies compared to what is spent on their "climate change" religion and resulting regulation and taxation to prevent the great bulk of pollution around the world. Bang for the buck says have China, India, and other places implement 1980s and 90s level controls which are relatively cheap and very effective.

      Even if CO2 driven climate change were real, their approach to dealing with it gives the real motivation away. For all the CO2 their plans would prevent China makes up for and then some all by itself. Obama and the rest have no issue with China's CO2 output growing and growing. Why? Because China has a desirable political and economic model. They want control over people in the west and are running a scam to get it.

  2. Even if “this is what climate change looks like,” if the “consensus” cause for climate change is incorrect, most likely so will be the solutions the consensus declares.

    Interesting that in this case of Cali wild fires, the anthropogenic cause of it has little to do with climate change. But Leo and Sandy are not looking for solutions to improve our environment so they use these disasters for their real agendas.